Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Disability, the communication of physical activity and sedentary behaviour, and ableism: a call for inclusive messages
  1. Brett Smith1,
  2. Kamran Mallick2,
  3. Javier Monforte1,
  4. Charlie Foster3
  1. 1 Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK
  2. 2 Disability Rights UK, Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, London, UK
  3. 3 Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Bristol Centre for Exercise Nutrition and Health Sciences, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Brett Smith, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, UK; brett.smith{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

This editorial is a call for action to make physical activity and sedentary behaviour messages inclusive. It focuses on disability. Numerous definitions of disability and ways of identifying as disabled exist across the globe. For example, some people, cultures, organisations and governments prefer for certain reasons to use the term ‘disabled people’, whereas others prefer ‘people with disabilities’ or ‘people with an impairment’.1 Respecting difference in terminology used around the world,1 we align with the social model and thus use the term ‘disabled people’ throughout this editorial. Disability refers to people who have long-term physical (eg, spinal cord injury), sensory (eg, visual impairment), cognitive (eg, learning difficulties) and/or mental impairments (eg, depression), which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.2

Despite the benefits of physical activity, many disabled people live insufficiently active lifestyles. They are also more likely to be inactive when compared with non-disabled people.2 Recent UK physical activity guidelines for disabled people recommended doing strength activities on 2 or more days a week and at least 150 min of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week for substantial health gains.2–4 It was also stressed in the UK guidelines that some physical activity is better than nothing as small amounts bring health benefits and the 150-min message alone can be daunting, especially for disabled adults who are mostly inactive.1–4 The new WHO global guidelines for physical activity and disability5 echoed the UK guidelines, providing support for its recommendations.

To maximise the impact of national and global physical activity guidelines, and reduce participation inequalities, inclusive and effective …

View Full Text


  • Twitter @FosteratBristol

  • Collaborators Association for Applied Sport Psychology, British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, British Psychological Society Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology, The Disabled Colleagues Network from Bristol City Council, Disability Positive, Disability North, Disability Rights UK, European Disability Golf Association, European Federation of Adapted Physical Activity, European Network for Young Specialists in Sport Psychology, International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity, International Society of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, International Society of Sport Psychology, Mixed Ability Sport, North American Federation of Adapted Physical Activity, North American Society for the Psychology of Physical Activity and Sport, North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, Para Dance UK, The Canadian Disability Participation Project, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair ‘Transforming the Lives of People with Disabilities, their Families and Communities, Through Physical Education, Sport, Recreation and Fitness’, Welsh Association of ME and CFS Support, Wheels for Wellbeing and WomenSport International support the need for inclusive messages and challenging ableism.

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the development and writing of the letter.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests KM reports as the Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK. Disability Rights UK is the leading charity of its kind in the UK. We are run by and for people with lived experience of disability or health conditions.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.